Prof. Dr. Bernhard Richter and Prof. Dr. Claudia Spahn, Freiburg
Keynote address at the opening ceremony (with music) 2017
“‘I’m all ears’ – hearing with body and soul”
The process of hearing already begins in the womb because the foetus can perceive acoustic information from outside already during the
final weeks of pregnancy. In the further course of life, the ear functions as a very sensitive “warning organ” which acoustically also covers the space behind us that we cannot see. The sensory canal of hearing is active day and night, and can warn us of dangers coming from far away. We may therefore also compare our ears with rear-view mirrors that – just as a night vision device – even work in the dark.
Apart from this important function as an “early warning system”, hearing is essentially involved in the mediation and communication of emotions as it provides the emotional content of verbal communication in addition to the prosodic elements such as tone pitch and sound duration as well as rhythm and volume. Therefore, in our everyday life, hearing is an essential “gateway” in the communication of interpersonal emotions without which we are, only to a limited extent, capable of surviving as social beings. There is good reason for saying: “Blindness separates us from things, deafness separates us from people.”
In this presentation, various emotional acoustic impressions will be explained, complemented with examples from music.